What Vector Drawing Packages Are Available? [Ask AstroBetter]

by saurav March 28, 2011

Matthew K. sent in a question for our Ask AstroBetter series: What vector graphics drawing package do you use for your figures? I’ve been using xfig for all my “hand drawn” plots, but I wonder if anyone has successfully moved on to more recent drawing packages … [a package] to draw simple figures like optical […]


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Add Symbols and Equations to IDL Figures with LaTeX and PSfrag

by saurav January 4, 2011

While IDL does support math equations and symbols—often made easier by routines like and—the results are not aesthetically pleasing. One particular instance that has annoyed many of us astronomers has been the sunsymbol (⦿). The available solutions are not ideal: the dot inside the circle is off-center in, the vertical alignment is […]


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Making RGB images from FITS files with python/matplotlib.

by Jessica Lu October 22, 2010

Converting astronomical data taken in multiple filters into representative-color RGB images often provides one of the most visually appealing (and informative) views of a target. This can be done in ds9 very easily; however, if you want a little more control, then python/matplotlib can be used in a very similar fashion. I also note that […]


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3D Plotting in Python with matplotlib mplot3d

by Jessica Lu February 1, 2010

I recently needed to do some simple 3D plotting in python. The strongest choice as discussed on the web is Mayavi, which is part of the Enthought Python distribution. However, I have a previous python distribution already installed (via scisoft) with all of my favorite packages updated to the latest and greatest versions (e.g. matplotlib, […]


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Your friend Convert

by Jane November 18, 2009

Do you use the tool “convert” to manipulate plots and images?  It’s simple, powerful and downright great!  Quick examples: Modify a plot for presentation use, by swapping to a black background with white lines, so it’s easier to read on a screen: > convert  -negate  forscreen.jpg Make a thumbnail: > convert -geometry 50×50 big.jpg […]

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Hungry for Plots? Get some APLpy!

by Eli July 20, 2009

Today APLpy 0.9.3 is out! It is a Python plotting package made to generate publication-quality plots in multiple formats such as EPS, PDF, PS, PNG, and SVG. APLpy was created by Thomas Robitaille and Eli Bressert, who come from a Fortran and IDL background. With Python’s ease of use, portability, and programming they decided to […]


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